A man who went on a shooting spree around a small community in California had been banned from owning firearms by a judge earlier in 2017, according to court documents. 44-year-old Kevin Neal killed four people in a rampage on Tuesday (14 November) after investigators believed he murdered his wife.

Neal was shot and killed by police after opening fire in several locations around Rancho Tehama Reserve in northern California. Reports have suggested that Neal had a history of criminal behaviour with neighbours saying they had repeatedly told police that Neal was firing off guns.

The gunman had also been charged with stabbing a neighbour, the Associated Press reported. The body of Neal's wife was found hidden under the floorboard, authorities said. Neighbours said that they had heard an incident at Neal's home the night before but authorities said it had not been reported.

On 31 January, Neal was charged with stabbing a woman, illegally firing a weapon and possessing an illegal firearm, according to court documents seen by AP. Neal was ordered to keep away from his alleged victim and another woman and was also barred from owning firearms.

Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said that though they had attended Neal's house on multiple occasions about reports he was firing guns, they did not see him with firearms. Neal had two handguns registered to another person and two home-made semi-automatic weapons, Johnston said.

Along with the five people believed to have been killed by Neal, 10 others were wounded in the incident. At one point, the gunman is reported to have fired inside a local elementary school wounding one student.

Neal's mother told AP that he had sounded more and more desperate the last times they spoke before the shooting. She said her son had told her he felt he was "on a cliff and there's nowhere to go."